Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Barack Obama speaks out on faith and politics: 'Call to Renewal' Keynote Address
by Sen. Barack Obama
[Note from Rowland. I like this guy. I happen to be a 'swinging voter' politically: I vote on issues and on the perceived credibility of the party/candidate. But from what I'm hearing/reading about this guy, I'm impressed].
Good morning. I appreciate the opportunity to speak here at the Call to Renewal's Building a Covenant for a New America conference, and I'd like to congratulate you all on the thoughtful presentations you've given so far about poverty and justice in America. I think all of us would affirm that caring for the poor finds root in all of our religious traditions - certainly that's true for my own.
But today I'd like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments over this issue over the last several years.
I do so because, as you all know, we can affirm the importance of poverty in the Bible and discuss the religious call to environmental stewardship all we want, but it won't have an impact if we don't tackle head-on the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America.
For me, this need was illustrated during my 2004 race for the U.S. Senate. My opponent, Alan Keyes, was well-versed in the Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson style of rhetoric that often labels progressives as both immoral and godless.
Indeed, towards the end of the campaign, Mr. Keyes said that, "Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved."
Now, I was urged by some of my liberal supporters not to take this statement seriously. To them, Mr. Keyes was an extremist, his arguments not worth entertaining.
What they didn't understand, however, was that I had to take him seriously. For he claimed to speak for my religion - he claimed knowledge of certain truths.
Mr. Obama says he's a Christian, he would say, and yet he supports a lifestyle that the Bible calls an abomination.
Mr. Obama says he's a Christian, but supports the destruction of innocent and sacred life.
What would my supporters have me say? That a literalist reading of the Bible was folly? That Mr. Keyes, a Roman Catholic, should ignore the teachings of the pope? More...